South Africa have withdrawn an appeal to African football body CAF against the head-to-head rule which led to their elimination from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competitiion.
Bafana Bafana (The Boys) players, coaches and officials believed goal difference separated teams finishing level on points after the final matches this month and celebrated after a 0-0 home draw against Sierra Leone.
The reality was that Niger, despite a 3-0 drubbing in Egypt, topped the table on the head-to-head rule that has been part of CAF national team and club competitions for almost a decade.
There have been public and media calls for South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani and coach Pitso Mosimane to resign after a debacle branded a "national disgrace" by sports minister Fikile Mbalula.
But Nematandani has laid the blame elsewhere, telling reporters "the failure by members of our (Bafana) technical team to acquaint themselves with some of the CAF rules is unacceptable.
"I would like to apologise unreservedly to the nation and our government for the failure of Bafana Bafana to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations," added the top football official in the country.
While Niger will make a first appearance at the tournament next January in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, former champions South Africa miss out for the second consecutive Cup of Nations.